A curious thing has been happening at the Vatican over the past 12 months. Since his election into the Papacy a year ago, Pope Francis has been catching people’s attention, religious and non-religious alike, with his shows of humility, empathy and generosity. As of January, 8 months since he took office, the number of people attending papal events, curious to see the Pope in action, has tripled to 6.6 million. With his kind words and even kinder actions, the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio has caught the eyes of people all over the world.
As soon as he took office, Pope Francis has taken many steps towards reconnecting the church to the general public. He has started spending more time amongst the crowd after his weekly Wednesday address, greeting and blessing as many as he can. He has shed the formerly ornate robes, throne and living quarters that traditionally come with his office and has encouraged his Cardinals to do the same. He’s appeared on the covers of the Rolling Stone and was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2013. He has also tackled technology by opening an account on Twitter (@Pontifex for those who are curious) in order to communicate better with the greater public.
The Pope picked the name Francis after the most famous Francis in Catholic history, St. Francis of Assisi, who was known for valuing poverty and humility and it is clear that he is doing his best to live up to his chosen name. According to Catholic journalist Rocco Palmo, the name signals Bergoglio’s “desire to be a force of unity in a polarized fold, a heart for the poor, and his intent to … rebuild the church.”
Pope Francis is also not afraid to tackle religious hard issues. In December, he publically expressed his prayers for clergy sex abuse victims, saying: “…I wish to express my compassion and to ensure my closeness in prayer to every victim of sexual abuse, and to their families; I ask you to continue to support them along the painful path of healing, that they have undertaken with courage.” He has also spoken out to those in the LGBTQ community stating “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?”
I believe that someone who shows this much kindness, humility and passion for his beliefs and for people is what the Church has been needing for a long time now, and Pope Francis is the right man for the job.
– AEK #205